Good For You

Nine Things You Can Do for Your Health That Cost Less Than $1

This was originally a guest post on a fabulous personal finance blog: Check it out! (I”m MIA because I’m taking my own advice, tip #8 that is!)

1. Take a walk, even for five minutes. Five to ten minutes of walking will help your health. (from the BBC)

To_Your_Health 2. Skip the sugar at the coffee shop, in your iced tea at lunch, etc. If you can’t go cold turkey, just get one sugar instead of two and slowly step down that way. Too much sugar is bad, so in the instances you can control how much sugar you are getting, regulate it. You can also try alternative sweetners.

3. When you’re feeling a little low, try some Emergence-C. Mixed in with some cool water, Emergence-C not only gives you a little boost of vitamins but at 30 cents a pack it’s cheaper and better for you then nutrient-infused bottled water. Oh and did I mention I haven’t had a major cold in over a year? The statements on the package may not have been evaluated by the FDA but it’s sure working for me!

4. Meditate. I’m trying to get back into this but when I used to meditate with a group in college (which involved me missing my afternoon naptime before one of my lab periods). I always came out of that place feeling like a million bucks. It’s good for you (thanks for backing me up, Psychology Today!) and while it takes some practice, meditating is actually kind of fun. And you don’t have to same Ommm or anything. Really.

5. Make every other beverage water. If you love Diet Coke or coffee or some other liquid vice let yourself have it… but make your next beverage water. A lot of times, when your body feels it needs something like food or caffeine, it’s really just thirsty.

6. Set a timer. Whether it’s something you are avoiding doing (like yoga) or something you do too much of (watching Will and Grace on DVD), set a time limit. Give yourself ten, twenty or thirty minutes. When the timer goes off, you’re done. A lot of times, it’s easy to commit to short spurts of time rather than long ones and the beep that signifies the end  holds you accountable.

7. Ask your friends. I was recently reading an article at Xconomy about a social networking site for healthcare. The story in the article is about a guy who has something really wrong with him and goes to doctor after doctor. After asking around, his friend suggests he may have Lyme Disease, and sure enough… Our friends are not only powerful in that stress-relieving, increase-your-lifespan kind of way but can also help you diagnose medical problems. Sure you can go online but asking your friends, who know the area you live in as well as some of your history, may be more helpful for your health than you think.

8. Take your vacation, or at least your break. Yes, it’s tempting to work through the day, eating at your desk and getting up only to get that page off the printer. Not good, folks. Not healthy either. While in the US by law you aren’t entitled to a break, no doubt your job offers them. Take it! Go for a walk, sit and read a magazine, do something else for 5-15 minutes. And taking a vacation is even healthier.

9. Set a health fitness goal. Whether you want to be able to do 100 pushups (the Money Life nework is doing the pushup challenge) or go vegetarian by September, a goal keeps you honest and gives you a reason to get off the couch. My goal is two inches from around my waist by the end of the summer. Think measurable and attainable.

Small steps, yes but whether you have no health insurance or the best plan available, these actions give some power and accountability back to you. Because if your health isn’t worth a dollar and a little effort, I’m not sure what is. To your health!

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Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Cheap Tricks From Domino Magazine

You regular Breaking Even readers know both my weakness for magazines (their glossy pictures, their easy-to-read articles) and my love of decorating so I really do love a good decorating magazine.

Domino-cheap-tricks-cover I’m a Domino subscriber for a few reasons 1) I like their modern decorating style 2) It costs $10 a year and 3) It’s something for me to look forward to getting in the mail.

That said, when they show an on-the-cheap redecoration involving a $1,000+ sofa or some retro chandelier that someone happened to find at a yard sale for $10, I roll my eyes a little. I mean, come on, With that logic, either I need to spend the next ten years trolling yard sales hoping for luck or throw money at my decorating problems to get things looking good. I don’t know many people who have $500 chairs (and if they would, I bet they wouldn’t let their dog sit on it like shown in the photo) and these prices are regular feature in this magazine.

When I recieved the latest issue in the mail promising cheap decorating tricks, I was intrigued. Some of it is what I was expecting (paint ugly floors, a coat of white paint looks good on even cheap furniture, etc.) but I followed their in-magazine tease to the web site of cheap decorating tricks from readers.

I’ll give you my top three picks of the thirty-one slides but do feel free to browse for yourself.

Label-paper-and-black-paint 1) Using label paper (the kind where the whole piece of paper could be a label) and a coat of black paint can make it look like you have fancy wall paper. The stencils can be customized for the room and your taste, though I think the silhouettes are quite striking. (See right)

2) Putting cool scrapbook paper on top of your plain bathroom scale (modge podge over it to protect your handiwork).

3) Use bright colored beach towels for reupholstry or as stretched canvas to insert instant summerness/brightness into any room.

So way to go Domino for some good tricks that don’t involve spending a lot of time or money. I can’t wait to see if cheap chic decorating will become a regular feature, and another reason I can look forward to my monthly magazine.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Putting Things Into Perspective

I did some shopping in a large retail store tonight (rhymes with mall fart) preparing for the weekend (see tomorrow’s post) when I had the following exchange with my cashier.

Walmartcheckout Her (remarking on the pack of Special Dark bars): Wow, I love those.

Me: Yeah, they are pretty fabulous.

Her: Yeah, they stopped selling them in the break room vending machine so I can’t get them for fifty cents anymore.

Me: Well, I guess there is the large pack option but then that means a lot of self discipline to not eat them all at once, which I certainly don’t have.

Her: Yeah, but I can’t afford the pack though. I’ve just got this dollar in change on me. I’ve had like four crackers today so I’m famished right now. My house has no food in it. I have mac and cheese but no milk, cereal but no milk again… (I’m making her sound like she’s talking a lot but this was a lot of back and forth conversation and no one was behind me in line to be pushing the transaction to end).

Me: Try apples, they’re not too expensive and really good for you. (oblivious to the fact there are no apples, or anything fresh really in this particular store)

Her: I just wish I had a rich grandfather or something, you know? Wouldn’t that be great?

This whole conversation took place in a matter of fact tone, that normal tone you would use to tell a coworker a story of something that happened to you. She was not feeling sorry for herself, or at least not any more so then anyone else I know.

So I’m standing there, in my cute graphic print dress from work, buying about $100 worth of stuff. Talk about perpective. I may have to budget and save but I’m not existing on four crackers a day, going to work hungry.

I asked her if I could slip her a Special Dark bar without getting her in trouble. She let me. I wished I could have slipped her something more nutritious or adopted her on the spot.

Hopefully, she got to buy an apple with that dollar in her pocket. I certainly got some much needed perspective in that transaction.

Photo from

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Using Your Commute

Ferryride I may or may not have written before that I currently have about a five minute commute to work (though with summer tourist traffic, it has quickly doubled to about ten minutes). That said, I work with people who are driving an hour or more one way to get to the office. There’s a trend of people moving closer to work to avoid high gas prices but this is not a reality for some people. And so we commute.

I wasn’t always so spoiled; I used to have a heavy duty commute. It involved walking 10-15 mintues to a ferry terminal then taking an hour and fifteen minute ferry to the other office I worked in on the mainland. I only had to do this one-two times a week (thank goodness) but I still had that hour and a half to work with each way on those days.

I’m certainly not one of those people who has to be productive every second. I took lots of time to enjoy the scenery and take photos (see above). I also got stuck of talking to my fair share of tourists (Yes, those are lobster traps. No, I’m not a fisherman…) But after I got a little over the view (which to be honest, I never did get completely over, I mean wow), there was always a question of “What should I do?”

Here’s what I did on my commute:

1. Played sudoku.
2. Read magazines (books aren’t great for the motion sick; a magazine is much easier to look up from).
3. Paid bills (brought check book and stamps so I could mail immediately upon getting to the mainland).
4. Wrote. I had this whole book idea I was going to do called “Ferry Tales” about people I met on the ferry… I suppose I still could.
5. Talked to fellow commuters, like Bob. I miss my talks with Bob, who was actually the first blogger I personally knew.
6. Listened to music.
7. Interviewed people on the ferry and asked them what they were doing. (I had an audio recorder and Bob and I were bored. Sadly, I’ve since lost the files, which were fabulous.)
8. Organized my day ahead, including my mainland errands.
9. Slept. (On winter days, this kept me from having to bork off the side of the boat).

A commute is time you have set aside for usually a very inactive activity. Even if you are driving, you’ve no doubt got some spare brain power you could be using. I love audio books on my long drives to the northern terminus of Maine. Bonus: My car has a tape deck which is the format most audio books in Maine libraries seem to prefer.

What I wonder is, since gas prices and stress in general are higher, do you feel an urge to be practical during your commute? What do you do? Are you learning a language or just listening to silly pop radio and singing along (not that I do that *wink*).

I’m wondering Breaking Even readers, what are you doing in your car, plane, ferry, train, or subway while you head off to the salt mines?

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Red And White Wine: Two Reasons To Not Be Blue

Maybe it’s the fact that it’s Wednesday, which is my longest-feeling day at work (when my coworker and I copy and paste the entire newspaper online). Maybe it’s that I felt awful all day yesterday and actually took a sick day. In any case, this afternoon as I write, I’m thinking of wine.

I don’t know much about wine but I have drank my fair bit (see yesterday’s post). Wine is a good thing to have around. It’s a cheap hostess gift and a great thing to instantly step up dinner, whether friends stop by or you just want to make that work night lasagna dinner a little special.

I’ve got two recommendations: a red and a white. Both retail for under $10 and are great wines. People have commented on their wonderfulness when I’ve served them and I’ve fearlessly brought both to dinner parties full of wine aficionados.

Red Wine
Bully Hill: Love My Goat

Bullyhilllabel The story as I heard it goes that this family vineyard was sold to a big coorporation and a family member went off to start his own wine company. When he couldn’t take the logo with him, the Bully Hill one was developed. A fun loving logo and a cheap price holds a great wine at a great price as a big “heck with you” to the big corporation. Here’s what I was able to find online (From LennThompson).

“The Taylor family was one of the original wine producing families of the Finger Lakes. The Taylor Wine Company grew from a small 19th-Century family operation into a 20th-Century wine bohemeth. After being acquired by the Coca-Cola company in the 1970s, the Taylor brand was sold to Seagrams in the 1980s. Taylor is one of the major brand names that was conglomerated into the infamous Constellation Brands based in Canandaigua. The Taylor name currently adorns the bottles of wines that originate mostly in California.

After Coca-Cola’s public takeover in the 1970s, legacy operator Walter Taylor was let go from the company and replaced by corporate management. Walter founded his own winery, Bully Hill, on one of his family’s original vineyard sites on the eastern shore of Keuka Lake… Coca-Cola sued Bully Hill in its early years which helped to help boost sales and name recognition.”

It a sweet enough wine for most everyone to at least like it and wine-y enough to not seem at all it’s cheap $5-7 price tag. Plus, it’s a wine celebrating sticking it to the man!!! I mean, what could be better?

To order wines or learn more, check them out online or in upstate New York.

White or Rose Wine
Big House

Bighousewhitewinelabel I know less about the Big House story but I have tried the white and pink blends.

We bought them for the cute label (Sean liked the jail reference; I liked the artistic rendering). They are crisp wines, a little sweet and great for summer.

A little more pricey then Bully Hill, you may have to look around for this one to be under ten dollars. (Where I shop, the price has gone up and down but has definitely been at $10 or less).

So cork open some special occasion in a bottle, knowing you don’t have to spend a bundle to treat yourself.

Oh and if you want to see one of the funniest video podcasts ever, click here. Hint: it’s about wine but I promise you won’t be bored.

Cheers to the midweek!

Images from

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Twenty Things That'll Make You Happy… And Cost Less Than $1

1. Making sun tea on a lazy afternoon.
2. Growing a plant from a seed.
3. Ironing your sheets and pillowcases (makes them soft).
4. Drinking a Monaco on your back deck (to make a Monaco: a dollop of grenadine syrup in a glass, pour cold beer on top).
5. Sending an old fashioned letter (a real one that you mail) to a friend.
6. Swap a favorite summer read with someone… or get one from the library.
7. Paint your toenails. (Those mini bottles mean little commitment. Might as well go bright orange!)
8. Giving yourself a pore-cleansing mask. (You can make them yourself, or buy a little package at the drugstore).
9. Help a friend do a project.
10. Scan an old photograph (like you putting pink curlers in your grandfather's hair) and make it your desktop background.
11. Borrow a dance video from the library and learn some new moves.
12. Eat a corndog (as I found today, they are ridiculously cheap!).
13. Get one or two of those huge gumballs from a gumball machine and blow ginormous bubbles.
14. Going for a run (exercise endophins and healthy!).
15. Put a lemon in your water glass.
16. Call your grandmother, even if for a couple of minutes.
17. Write a thank you note to someone who helped you out… and send it!
18. Get $1 worth of penny candy and sit somewhere scenic to eat it.
19. Buy your local paper and get caught up on the local news and activities.
20. Pick some wildflowers.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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